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[ik-skwiz-it, ek-skwi-zit] /ɪkˈskwɪz ɪt, ˈɛk skwɪ zɪt/
of special beauty or charm, or rare and appealing excellence, as a face, a flower, coloring, music, or poetry.
extraordinarily fine or admirable; consummate:
exquisite weather.
intense; acute, or keen, as pleasure or pain.
of rare excellence of production or execution, as works of art or workmanship:
the exquisite statues of the Renaissance.
keenly or delicately sensitive or responsive:
an exquisite ear for music; an exquisite sensibility.
of particular refinement or elegance, as taste, manners, etc., or persons.
carefully sought out, chosen, ascertained, devised, etc.
Archaic. a person, especially a man, who is excessively concerned about clothes, grooming, etc.; dandy; coxcomb.
Origin of exquisite
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin exquīsītus meticulous, chosen with care, originally past participle of exquīrere to ask about, examine, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + -quīrere, combining form of quaerere to seek
Related forms
exquisitely, adverb
exquisiteness, noun
overexquisite, adjective
superexquisite, adjective
superexquisitely, adverb
superexquisiteness, noun
1. dainty, beautiful, elegant, rare. 2. perfect, matchless. 3. poignant. 4. select, choice, precious. 6. discriminating.
1. gross. 2. ordinary. 3. dull.
Synonym Study
1. See delicate. 2. See fine1
Pronunciation note
The pronunciation of exquisite has undergone a rapid change from
[ek-skwi-zit] /ˈɛk skwɪ zɪt/ (Show IPA)
[ik-skwiz-it] /ɪkˈskwɪz ɪt/
with stress shifting to the second syllable. The newer pronunciation is still criticized by some, but is now more common in both the U.S. and England, and many younger educated speakers are not even aware of the older one. See harass. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for exquisite
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Most exquisite of sonatas would not to them make up for a game of billiards!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • His miracles seem to me to be as exquisite as the coming of spring, and quite as natural.

    De Profundis Oscar Wilde
  • The exquisite vision that came from the Invisible had returned to the Invisible.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • All the world was coming to the exquisite bloom of a half-tropical country.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • She was an exquisite young woman, there was no doubt about that.

British Dictionary definitions for exquisite


/ɪkˈskwɪzɪt; ˈɛkskwɪzɪt/
possessing qualities of unusual delicacy and fine craftsmanship: jewels in an exquisite setting
extremely beautiful and pleasing: an exquisite face
outstanding or excellent: an exquisite victory
sensitive; discriminating: exquisite taste
fastidious and refined
intense or sharp in feeling: exquisite pleasure, exquisite pain
(obsolete) a dandy
Derived Forms
exquisitely, adverb
exquisiteness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin exquīsītus excellent, from exquīrere to search out, from quaerere to seek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for exquisite

early 15c., "carefully selected," from Latin exquisitus "carefully sought out," thus, "choice," from past participle of exquirere "search out thoroughly," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + quaerere "to seek" (see query (v.)).

Of any thing (good or bad, torture as well as art) brought to a highly wrought condition, sometimes shading into disapproval. A vogue word 15c.-18c., given wide extensions of meaning, none of which survives. The main modern sense of "of consummate and delightful excellence" is first attested 1579, in Lyly's "Euphues." Related: Exquisitely; exquisiteness. The noun meaning "a dandy, fop" is from 1819.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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exquisite in Medicine

exquisite ex·qui·site (ěk'skwĭ-zĭt, ĭk-skwĭz'ĭt)
Extremely intense, keen, or sharp. Used of pain or tenderness.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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